Archive for the ‘Competitions / Contests’ Category

Check out our new PhantomX Robotic Arms!

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

PhantomX Reactor ArmThe Arms are done!

We’re proud to unveil our new arms, the PhantomX Reactor Robot Arm and its little brother the PhantomX Pincher Robot Arm. These arms are based around the Dynamixel AX-12 Robot Servos and are controlled with the Arbotix RoboController, so you have an amazing amount of control over these arms. The Reactor Arm also has a ‘Wrist Rotate’ option, to add another level of functionality to your arm.

Stay tuned for more videos about the design of this arm, as well as examples of all of the amazing things it can do.

Help Vote for a Robot Grant

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Do something good today. Take 30 seconds and vote by text. You’ll erase some bad karma from that one thing you know you did…

RoboGames is up for a $25,000 grant to help bring robotics classes to underprivileged middle schoolers around the San Francisco Bay Area, and you can help!  Pepsi is offering large grants to non-profits such as the Robotics Society (the parent organization of RoboGames), but only the top few ideas will win.

You don’t need to give us any money, you just need to vote!  Please help us get funding to get more kids building robots for the 2012 games! We are poised to make this a great year for community centers, under funded schools, and a whole slew of other folks with your help!  If we win the voting, we can put robots in the hands of about 120 kids and provide them with teachers for a full semester of after-school instruction.  All leading up to them competing at RoboGames.  The classes will get kids autonomous robots, and teach them how to program and build the robots to
compete in multiple events in next April’s event.

And neither you nor the kids have to pay a cent!

Here’s the link to vote: or you can vote by texting 107947 to Pepsi (73774) to vote from your mobile phone.

And you can vote once per day!  So vote today, tomorrow, and every day this month!

This will barely take any time at all, but can impact the lives of a lot of kids who’d never get to learn about robotics otherwise.  We can inspire them to keep studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and all you have to do is vote!”

via Robots-Dreams

Robocup 2011 Istanbul Trip

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

What some of you may not realize is that the life of a roboticist parallels the life of a total rockstar in many regards. That’s right- loud music, hordes of women, and international travel. Well, mostly just the travel aspect. Also, robots. There are a lot of robots involved. Just like a rockstar.

I had the pleasure of traveling to Istanbul, Turkey last month to attend the 2011 International Robocup. It. Was. Awesome.

The previous contender for largest robotics competition I had attended was the Korean Robot Games Festival in 2010, and I’m just going to come out and say it: Robocup blew it out of the water. I have never seen so many roboticists under a single roof; 3 massive conference halls were packed to the gills with robots and eager students and university faculty. I stuck to the 3rd hall almost exclusively, as it had what I love the most, humanoid robots. We had hundreds of Nao humanoids as well as hundreds of kid-size, teen-size, and adult-size custom humanoid robots. Another big thing to note is that the matches are significantly more exciting as the years pass, and this year was an amazing sight to behold. The kid-size humanoids were fast and agile, and the games had plenty of suspenseful and exciting plays. I watched a few Standard League (Nao) matches as well, but to be perfectly honest, the kid-size stuff was more entertaining. The Darwin-OP platforms would’ve literally run circles around the Nao. Industry competition is a good thing though, perhaps we’ll see some hardware improvements to the Nao in the next few years that will, literally, bring them up to speed.

Here are some pictures (taken on my iPad, unfortunately my camera didn’t survive being in checked baggage) of the event! The full gallery can be found here.

It’s worth noting that Virginia Tech RoMeLa took gold in the Kid-size league with their Darwin-OP based team. Check out their final match vs Japan below!

— Andrew – “Laser Scientist”

CHARLI-L2 First Walking Test

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

I had the pleasure of meeting up with the Virginia Tech RoMeLa crew at Robocup 2011 earlier this month, where they were showing off not only a Kid-Size team full of Darwin-OP robots, but also their new CHARLI-L2 humanoid. Popular Science already did a nice write-up of CHARLI’s performance in the Adult-size league, but I found this video of CHARLI-L2 taking his first steps (in the nude) to be equally interesting.

We’ll have a bunch of content on my trip to Robocup 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey in the very near future! Stay tuned!

— Andrew “Robot Sexpert”

Project Spotlight: Immortal, Quad Mech

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Cire came to our forums with a background in mechanical engineering and an insatiable urge to get involved with Mech Warfare. Inspired by Starcraft 2, he wanted to build a Mech that was based on the Protoss ranged support unit, the Immortal. He did his research, started with rough 3D CAD drawings, and ultimately decided to use AX-12+ Dynamixels & the Arbotix Robocontroller with it’s NUKE engine as a basis for his platform.

His project thread documents the progress he made, from someone with minimal previous electronics and programming knowledge, to someone with a highly competitive and fully functional Mech Warfare platform. Aesthetically this quad Mech hits the mark perfectly with its custom machined aluminum frame; Immortal is only very polished project that is sure to prove a fierce competitor at Robogames this April. Cire also went the extra mile and integrated a 4th degree of freedom in each leg; the position of the tip of each leg uses the angle values of the rest of the leg to maintain a perpendicular orientation to the ground. Be sure to check in with the competition results to see how he fares at Mech Warfare 2011!

2010 Contest Winners Announced!

Friday, February 11th, 2011

First of all, I have to apologize for the delay in getting the results posted. We have been unbelievably busy in the last 2 months (mostly due to the content of our previous blog post) and wanted to make sure we could put aside the proper amount of time and effort to judge our numerous entries.

We judge contest entries in 3 different areas on a 1-10 scale:

1) Ingenuity

2) Originality/Creativity

3) Presentation, Documentation, & Explanation!

However in addition to simply voting this year the TR crew sat down, threw back a few beers, and discussed why we had our top picks. Rather than simply give a numeric score as the basis for winning, I took notes on that discussion and want to convey our thoughts in cliff-note form as I feel they provide feedback to not only the contestants that won, but also others who will enter in our future contests. One thing to keep in mind is that even if your project did not win this time, if you continue to improve and further document your project you are eligible for re-entry in our future contests.

So without further ado, here are the top 3 Contest Winners!

Third Place:

Project – A PLM mech for MW
Creator – jes1510
Prize – Roboni-I
Why it won: jes1510 took a newer concept (PLM) that had been discussed pretty thoroughly here on the TRC, prototyped it using Bioloid components and a bit of hacking, and then blew us away with a ground-up hand built metal chassis. This gave us a really nice peak into how he planned out this project and made it a reality. The hand metal-work is top notch as well! Even though this project is still a work-in-progress, it’s an excellent show of pioneering a relatively new leg design from concept to proof-of-concept to final version.


Second Place:

Project – Hi No Hikari
Creator – darkback2
Prize – Headplay VR Goggles
Why it won: darkback2 took PLM and decided to run with it as well. He was actually the first person on our forums to dive in and start building after our fairly feverish discussion in the PLM Discussion Thread. He absolutely excelled in documenting his progress, success, and failures. He actively discussed it with the community, took feedback into consideration, and continued to improve the project and push it forward. Somethings would go wrong, but he would quickly come up with a solution and keep pushing on. This is a pretty familiar process to tinkerers in general, and hit home nicely with the judges. Did we mention the entire bot was built using a drill press, vice, and jig saw? Definite bonus points for the DIY approach. Again- the huge number of progress updates as the project developed and community interaction made this project score very highly.


First Place:

Project – Archer – an IK controlled biped
Creator – Zenta
Prize – InterbotiX PhantomX Hexapod Kit
Why it won: Zenta is pretty famous about these parts- a few years back he nabbed First prize for his Phoenix Hexapod entry which had some of the most impressive IK and smooth motions we’d ever seen. He pretty much conquered Hexapod Inverse Kinematics, so he moved on to the next challenge: Biped IK. In terms of raw technical expertise, Archer is one of the most advanced robots we’ve seen on the TRC. Bipedal IK is not an easy thing to solve, and not only did he pull it off perfectly, the end result and overall smoothness in Archer’s movements is unrivaled. On top of that, he implemented a COG (center of gravity) shifting device that is absolutely brilliant. The videos demonstrate this robot’s capabilities perfectly, and consistent project updates as well as a full release of all of his code is what landed Zenta first place here. He set the bar pretty high with this entry, but with an open source offering we hope other’s can learn from the knowledge he shared with this project. Congratulations to Zenta for the truly awe inspiring project!


Well that’s it for this round folks! We’ll be sure to keep you guys updated on when the next round of projects will start. Until then, keep building!

Editors Note: Three bipeds won? Seriously? We haven’t had a single biped place in top 3 in the last 3+ years this contest has been running, and this year we had not one but three bipeds place? Wow. Someone better make sure Giger hasn’t killed off the TR crew and replaced us with his humanoid brethren.

Hall 1 – IRC Korea 2010

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Some of you saw the Diary Of A Mad Roboticist! post 2 months ago where Andrew and I were getting ready to fly over to Korea and do some humanoid competing. As usual we were biting off way more than we could chew and were building robots up until hours before leaving on a 22 hour trip.  It turned out we were being over zealous as usual too, because the competitions were way more chill than what we expected. So we spent much more of our time meeting people and exploring the wonders of Korea than competing. Andrew did get to do some exhibition matches with the local college students and Giger fell over a lot. Andrew also got a lot of R&D time in with a future humanoid code named Shadow Blade (Video) (all RX-24F servos!) which should be on shelves in 2011. Andrew ALSO did a lot of work on the RX-24/28 PLM robot also coming out in 2011 which will be a “soldier” series bot specifically designed for fighting. Coming later-ish maybe… a 3rd video of Andrew and I exploring Korea. That video needs, um, editing due to copious amounts of soju being consumed during the making.


IRC 2010 picture galleries

IRC 2010 hall 2 Video

Code Project Contest – Round 2!

Monday, December 6th, 2010


Code Project had so much fun the first time around that they are doing it again. Up for grabs are more cool robot prizes. This time they decided to concentrate on Beginner Tutorials to help introduce people who are new to the basics of Physical Computing. This is a great chance for the robotics and physical computing community to show computer programmers what they are missing. Anyone can go join the community over there and post articles. Just please read the guidlines they have carefully first. Good luck to all who enter!

The contest begins on December 6, 2010 and will end February 6, 2011 at 11:59:59 PM US Eastern Standard Time.

Contest Page (Beginners Hardware and Device Programming Competition)

Contest Rules

General Article Submission FAQ & Guidelines

The Hardware Zone (Where the articles are posted)

Winners from last time

Mech Warfare 2010 Highlights Video

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

So this video is SERIOUSLY long overdue, given that Mech Warfare 2010 happened back in April earlier this year at Robogames. We got crazy busy over the summer & fall and publishing this video sort of slipped under our radar. But- here it is in all it’s glory! If you don’t know what Mech Warfare is please do yourself a favor and check out the website or join our community for the latest Mech Warfare discussions!

Code Project Winners Announced

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010


Two months ago we partnered with the excellent coding site Code Project to put up some prizes for hardware articles. It is great to see more communities getting involved with DIY and Physical Computing. The programmers over there really delivered with a pile of great articles which were REALLY in depth and well done. One thing is for certain, they really know how to write articles over there. The contest ended recently, the votes are tallied, and the winners are in!

Here are the lucky winners who will be receiving prizes for their efforts:

First Place: Bioloid Beginner Robot Kit
Winner: Ian Johnston
Article: Radio Control Transmitter – Joystick

Second Place: The RoboTurret Vision Tracking Kit
Winner: Amro Fawzy
Article: 3G Modem Internet Dialer

Third Place: RFID Experimenters Kit
Winner: Alex Opoulos
Article: AVRILOS: A simple OS for AVR microcontrollers

Great job to everyone, but you know who the real winners are here? Its the robots, because they will have new homes and new friends to play with. Stay tuned for more contests announcements at Code Project. For those who are too impatient to wait. Our regular DIY Project Contest just had it’s deadline extended to January 1st! Still time to get in.